by Kim Hill, Deep Green Resistance Australia
Don’t talk to me about sustainability. You want to question my lifestyle, my impact, my ecological footprint? There is a monster standing over us, with a footprint so large it can trample a whole planet underfoot, without noticing or caring. This monster is Industrial Civilization. I refuse to sustain the monster. If the Earth is to live, the monster must die. This is a declaration of war.
What is it we are trying to sustain? A living planet, or industrial civilization? Because we can’t have both.
Somewhere along the way the environmental movement – based on a desire to protect the Earth, was largely eaten by the sustainability movement – based on a desire to maintain our comfortable lifestyles. When did this happen, and why? And how is it possible that no-one noticed? This is a fundamental shift in values, to go from compassion for all living beings and the land, to a selfish wish to feel good about our inherently destructive way of life.
The sustainability movement says that our capacity to endure is the responsibility of individuals, who must make lifestyle choices within the existing structures of civilization. To achieve a truly sustainable culture by this means is impossible. Industrial infrastructure is incompatible with a living planet. If life on Earth is to survive, the global political and economic structures need to be dismantled.
Sustainability advocates tell us that reducing our impact, causing less harm to the Earth, is a good thing to do, and we should feel good about our actions. I disagree. Less harm is not good. Less harm is still a lot of harm. For as long as any harm is caused, by anyone, there can be no sustainability. Feeling good about small acts doesn’t help anyone.
Only one-quarter of all consumption is by individuals. The rest is taken up by industry, agribusiness, the military, governments and corporations. Even if every one of us made every effort to reduce our ecological footprint, it would make little difference to overall consumption.
If the lifestyle actions advocated really do have the effect of keeping our culture around for longer than it would otherwise, then it will cause more harm to the natural world than if no such action had been taken. For the longer a destructive culture is sustained, the more destruction it causes. The title of this article isn’t just attention-grabbing and controversial, it is quite literally what’s going on.
When we frame the sustainability debate around the premise that individual lifestyle choices are the solution, then the enemy becomes other individuals who make different lifestyle choices, and those who don’t have the privilege of choice. Meanwhile the true enemy — the oppressive structures of civilization — are free to continue their destructive and murderous practices without question. This is hardly an effective way to create a meaningful social movement. Divide and be conquered.
Sustainability is popular with corporations, media and government because it fits perfectly with their aims. Maintain power. Grow. Make yourself out to be the good guy. Make people believe that they have power when they don’t. Tell everyone to keep calm and carry on shopping. Control the language that is used to debate the issues. By creating and reinforcing the belief that voting for minor changes and buying more stuff will solve all problems, those in power have a highly effective strategy for maintaining economic growth and corporate-controlled democracy.
Those in power keep people believing that the only way we can change anything is within the structures they’ve created. They build the structures in a way that people can never change anything from within them. Voting, petitions, and rallies all reinforce the power structures, and can never bring about significant change on their own. These tactics give corporations and governments a choice. We’re giving those in power a choice of whether to grant our request for minor reform. Animals suffering in factory farms don’t have a choice. Forests being destroyed in the name of progress don’t have a choice. Millions of people working in majority-world sweatshops don’t have a choice. The 200 species who became extinct today didn’t do so by choice. And yet we give those responsible for all this murder and suffering a choice. We’re granting the desires of a wealthy minority above the needs of life on Earth.
Most of the popular actions that advocates propose to achieve sustainability have no real effect, and some even cause more harm than good. The strategies include reducing electricity consumption, reducing water use, a green economy, recycling, sustainable building, renewables and energy efficiency. Let’s look at the effects of these actions.
We’re told to reduce our consumption of electricity, or obtain it from alternative sources. This will make zero difference to the sustainability of our culture as a whole, because the electricity grid is inherently unsustainable. No amount of reduction or so-called renewable energy sources will change this. Mining to make electrical wires, components, electrical devices, solar panels, wind turbines, geothermal plants, biomass furnaces, hydropower dams, and everything else that connects to the electricity grid, are all unsustainable. Manufacturing to make these things, with all the human exploitation, pollution, waste, health and social impacts, and corporate profits. Fossil fuels needed to keep all these processes going. Unsustainable. No amount of individual lifestyle choices about electricity use and generation will change any of this. Off grid electricity is no different – it needs batteries and inverters.
Shorter showers. Low-flow devices. Water restrictions. These are all claimed to Make A Difference. While the whole infrastructure that provides this water – large dams, long distance pipelines, pumps, sewers, drains – is all unsustainable.
Dams destroy the life of a whole watershed. It’s like blocking off an artery, preventing blood from flowing to your limbs. No-one can survive this. Rivers become dead when fish are prevented from travelling up and down the river. The whole of the natural community that these fish belong to is killed, both upstream and downstream of the dam.
Dams cause a lowering of the water table, making it impossible for tree roots to get to water. Floodplain ecologies depend on seasonal flooding, and collapse when a dam upstream prevents this. Downstream and coastal erosion results. Anaerobic decomposition of organic matter in dams releases methane to the atmosphere.
No matter how efficient with water you are, this infrastructure will never be sustainable. It needs to be destroyed, to allow these communities to regenerate.
The green economy
Green jobs. Green products. The sustainable economy. No. There’s no such thing. The whole of the global economy is unsustainable. The economy runs on the destruction of the natural world. The Earth is treated as nothing but fuel for economic growth. They call it natural resources. And a few people choosing to remove themselves from this economy makes no difference. For as long as this economy exists, there will be no sustainability.
For as long as any of these structures exist: electricity, mains water, global economy, industrial agriculture – there can be no sustainability. To achieve true sustainability, these structures need to be dismantled.
What’s more important to you – to sustain a comfortable lifestyle for a little longer, or the continuation of life on Earth, for the natural communities who remain, and for future generations?
We’re made to believe that buying a certain product is good because the packaging can be recycled. You can choose to put it in a brightly-coloured bin. Never mind that fragile ecosystems were destroyed, indigenous communities displaced, people in far away places required to work in slave conditions, and rivers polluted, just to make the package in the first place. Never mind that it will be recycled into another useless product which will then go to landfill. Never mind that to recycle it means transporting it far away, using machinery that run on electricity and fossil fuels, causing pollution and waste. Never mind that if you put something else in the coloured bin, the whole load goes to landfill due to the contamination.
Principles of sustainable building: build more houses, even though there are already enough perfectly good houses for everyone to live in. Clear land for houses, destroying every living thing in the natural communities that live there. Build with timber from plantation forests, which have required native forests to be wiped out so they can be replaced with a monoculture of pines where nothing else can live. Use building products that are slightly less harmful than other products. Convince everyone that all of this is beneficial to the Earth.
Solar panels. The very latest in sustainability fashion. And in true sustainability style, incredibly destructive of life on earth. Where do these things come from? You’re supposed to believe that they are made out of nothing, a free, non-polluting source of electricity.
If you dare to ask where solar panels come from, and how they are made, its not hard to uncover the truth. Solar panels are made of metals, plastics, rare earths, electronic components. They require mining, manufacturing, war, waste, pollution. Millions of tons of lead are dumped into rivers and farmland around solar panel factories in China and India, causing health problems for the human and natural communities who live there. Polysilicon is another poisonous and polluting waste product from manufacturing that is dumped in China. The production of solar panels causes nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) to be emitted into the atmosphere. This gas has 17 000 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide.
Rare earths come from Africa, and wars are raged over the right to mine them. People are being killed so you can have your comfortable Sustainability. The panels are manufactured in China. The factories emit so much pollution that people living nearby become sick. Lakes and rivers become dead from the pollution. These people cannot drink the water, breathe the air or farm the land, as a direct result of solar panel manufacturing. Your sustainability is so popular in China that villagers mobilise in mass protest against the manufacturers. They are banding together to break into the factories and destroy equipment, forcing the factories to shut down. They value their lives more than sustainability for the rich.
Panels last around 30 years, then straight to landfill. More pollution, more waste. Some parts of solar panels can be recycled, but some can’t, and have the bonus of being highly toxic. To be recycled, solar panels are sent to majority-world countries where low-wage workers are exposed to toxic substances while disassembling them. The recycling process itself requires energy and transportation, and creates waste products.
Solar panel industries are owned by Siemens, Samsung, Bosch, Sharp, Mitsubishi, BP, and Sanyo, among others. This is where solar panel rebates and green power bills are going. These corporations thank you for your sustainable dollars.
The processing of rare earth metals needed to make the magnets for wind turbines happens in China, where people in the surrounding villages struggle to breathe in the heavily polluted air. A five-mile-wide lake of toxic and radioactive sludge now takes the place of their farmland.
Whole mountain ranges are destroyed to extract the metals. Forests are bulldozed to erect wind turbines. Millions of birds and bats are killed by the blades. The health of people living close to turbines is affected by infrasound.
As wind is an inconsistent and unpredictable source of energy, a back-up gas fired power supply is needed. As the back-up system only runs intermittently, it is less efficient, so produces more CO2 than if it were running constantly, if there were no turbines. Wind power sounds great in theory, but doesn’t work in practice. Another useless product that benefits no-one but the shareholders.
How about we improve energy efficiency? Won’t that reduce energy consumption and pollution? Well, no. Quite the opposite. Have you heard of Jevon’s paradox? Or the Khazzoom-Brookes Postulate? These state that technological advances to increase efficiency lead to an increase in energy consumption, not a decrease. Efficiency causes more energy to be available for other purposes. The more efficient we become at consuming, the more we consume. The more efficiently we work, the more work gets done. And we’re working at efficiently digging ourselves into a hole.
The economics of supply and demand
Many actions taken in the name of sustainability can have the opposite effect. Here’s something to ponder: one person’s decision not to take flights, out of concern about climate change or sustainability, won’t have any impact. If a few people stop flying, airlines will reduce their prices, and amp up their marketing, and more people will take flights. And because they are doing it at lower prices, the airline needs to make more flights to make the profit it was before. More flights, more carbon emissions. And if the industry hit financial trouble as a result of lowered demand, it would get bailed out by governments. This “opt-out” strategy can’t win.
The decision not to fly isn’t doing anything to reduce the amount of carbon being emitted, it’s just not adding to it in this instance. And any small reduction in the amount of carbon being emitted does nothing to stop climate change.
To really have an impact on global climate, we’ll need to stop every aeroplane and every fossil-fuel burning machine from operating ever again. And stopping every fossil-fuel burning machine is nowhere near the impossible goal it may sound. It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely achievable. And it’s not only desirable, but essential if life on this planet is to survive.
The same goes for any other destructive product we might choose not to buy. Factory-farmed meat, palm oil, rainforest timbers, processed foods. For as long as there is a product to sell, there will be buyers. Attempting to reduce the demand will have little, if any, effect. There will always be more products arriving on the market. Campaigns to reduce the demand of individual products will never be able to keep up. And with every new product, the belief that this one is a need, not a luxury, becomes ever stronger. Can I convince you not to buy a smartphone, a laptop, a coffee? I doubt it.
To stop the devastation, we need to permanently cut off the supply, of everything that production requires. And targeting individual companies or practices won’t have any impact on the global power structures that feed on the destruction of the Earth. The whole of the global economy needs to be brought to a halt.
What do you really want?
What’s more important – sustainable energy for you to watch TV, or the lives of the world’s rivers, forests, animals, and oceans? Would you sooner live without these, without Earth? Even if this was an option, if you weren’t tightly bound in the interconnected in the web of life, would you really prefer to have electricity for your lights, computers and appliances, rather than share the ecstasy of being with all of life on Earth? Is a lifeless world ruled by machines really what you want?
If getting what you want requires destroying everything you need – clean air and water, food, and natural communities – then you’re not going to last long, and neither will anyone else.
I know what I want. I want to live in a world that is becoming ever more alive. A world regenerating from the destruction, where every year there are more fish, birds, trees and diversity than the year before. A world where I can breathe the air, drink from the rivers and eat from the land. A world where humans live in community with all of life.
Industrial technology is not sustainable. The global economy is not sustainable. Valuing the Earth only as a resource for humans to exploit is not sustainable. Civilization is not sustainable. If civilization collapsed today, it would still be 400 years before human existence on the planet becomes truly sustainable. So if it’s genuine sustainability you want, then dismantle civilization today, and keep working at regenerating the Earth for 400 years. This is about how long it’s taken to create the destructive structures we live within today, so of course it will take at least that long to replace these structures with alternatives that benefit all of life on Earth, not just the wealthy minority. It won’t happen instantly, but that’s no reason not to start.
You might say let’s just walk away, build alternatives, and let the whole system just fall apart when no-one pays it any attention any more. I used to like this idea too. But it can’t work. Those in power use the weapons of fear and debt to maintain their control. The majority of the world’s people don’t have the option of walking away. Their fear and debt keeps them locked in the prison of civilization. Your walking away doesn’t help them. Your breaking down the prison structure does.
We don’t have time to wait for civilization to collapse. Ninety per cent of large fish in the oceans are gone. 99 per cent of the old growth forests have been destroyed. Every day 200 more species become extinct, forever. If we wait any longer, there will be no fish, no forests, no life left anywhere on Earth.
So what can you do?
Spread the word. Challenge the dominant beliefs. Share this article with everyone you know.
Listen to the Earth. Get to know your nonhuman neighbours. Look after each other. Act collectively, not individually. Build alternatives, like gift economies, polyculture food systems, alternative education and community governance. Create a culture of resistance.
Rather than attempting to reduce the demand for the products of a destructive system, cut off the supply. The economy is what’s destroying the planet, so stop the economy. The global economy is dependent on a constant supply of electricity, so stopping it is (almost) as easy as flicking a switch.
Governments and industry will never do this for us, no matter how nicely we ask, or how firmly we push. It’s up to us to defend the land that our lives depend on.
We can’t do this as consumers, or workers, or citizens. We need to act as humans, who value life more than consuming, working and complaining about the government.
Learn about and support Deep Green Resistance, a movement with a working strategy to save the planet. Together, we can fight for a world worth living in. Join us.
In the words of Lierre Keith, co-author of the book Deep Green Resistance, “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems.”
Do you agree with this analysis? If so, we have three steps for you to take:
- Join more than 1500 others in signing and sharing the open letter to reclaim environmentalism
- Join our email list
- Consider becoming a member of Deep Green Resistance.
From Stories of Creative Ecology August 28, 2012
To repost this or other DGR original writings, please contact email@example.com
Crazy good read! Powerful stuff but such a bleak outlook. No hope for technological advancement and human compassion repairing the damage we’ve done?
So what are you advocating then? That we give up electricity altogether and live like we used to in the pioneer times? What about the massive amount of death that would cause? The healthcare industry would have its hands tied without electricity to make proper medicine, use diagnostic tools, or do many surgeries.
And what about you? I know you said that individually even if we all stopped consuming, or consumed less, that it would be at best only 25% better, but isn’t it still a little hypocritical to be typing away on your computer, run with electricity, and manufactured in China?
If you are not one to say that we should just let ourselves die off as a species, we need to look to the future of technology to lessen our impact on the world, and try to improve the world. If you care about the people who live on this earth, as you claim to, then you have to realize how much harm would come to billions of people if we did what you propose.
You can read more about our stance on green technology and renewable energy at http://deepgreenresistance.org/who-we-are/faqs/green-technology-renewable-energy
As for being hypocritical, one of DGR’s general principals is “The task of an activist is not to navigate systems of oppressive power with as much personal integrity as possible; it is to dismantle those systems,” to quote Lierre Keith. You can see how little good living without high technology and electricity is doing indigenous societies trying to save their land and way of life, how it’s not stopping the destruction of the planet. There is no leverage at all in personal gestures of purity, and moreover, no way to broadcast our message without computers, and no chance of a voluntary mass departure from civilization.
Electricity cannot be generated forever. There is only so much of the metals, plastics, oil, gas, uranium, and so on to build and maintain any electrical grid, solar panels, wind turbines, or computers. Eventually humanity will find itself, one way or another, again in a Stone Age of technology. What will matter is how much of the living world–topsoil, prairie, forest, clean water–is left when it does. The more is left, the less harm will come to those billions of people.
What about the deaths from total global ecological collapse? You just want us to keep using technology that will cause those deaths? At least with going away from tech there’s a chance the world actually goes on for the plant and animals here now.
I read this whole article, and I was seriously considering joining your group until now. Fucked up as it is, I’m starting to think there is no stopping the demise of our planet. After all, everything dies. Everything has to. Even the earth. Life itself is not sustainable. Humanity will never voluntarily go back to living without electricity-it is not in our nature to go backwards. To most people going back to life without electricity and laundry machines, cars and refrigerators is a shitty alternative. The only thing left to hope for is that something uncontrollable happens to bring the entire grid down, instantly taking the construct of industrial civilization down with it. However, that’s a long shot, to put it mildly. You guys have your hearts in the right place, but you need a better plan because realistically this one is not going to happen (as much as I would love to see that myself) …
Thanks for the comment. If you’ll check in more closely with our main website (deepgreenresistance.org), and with the book Deep Green Resistance, you’ll see we repeatedly underscore the probability that the dominant culture will never voluntarily choose a sane and sustainable way of living. This analysis is (in part at least) what the entire Decisive Ecological Warfare (http://deepgreenresistance.org/deep-green-resistance-strategy/decisive-ecological-warfare) strategy is based upon. We encourage you to keep reading and keep your love of life intact.
Like. Don’t worry, Mother Earth will take care of herself. She will purge us all. Sadly, we may lose all those wonderful animals we so love at the same time. That’s too bad. They didn’t deserve it.
For 2 decades I’ve said we could have our cake and eat it too, IF, and only if, we didn’t have so many people. 1 Billion persons (give or take) could have energly and manufacturing and all their bad habits. But not 7 billion and climbing. I used to belong, in the olden days, to a board called “70%- I can live with the smell”. They were a bunch of extremely smart smart- asses. Much smarter than me. But its true. About a 70 % reduction would be a good start.
You would need to take out all the people in the industrialized countries. We are the ones destroying the planet. You could take out the populations of all the third world countries and we, the advanced populations would still destroy the planet almost exactly as fast as the full 7 billion would. People who are worried about population usually would like to see all the brown people disappear. Trust me, it wouldn’t help. We are the ones who should be taken out, the ones who are causing those giant mines, the massive loss of forests, the desertification of grasslands across the planet, the lowering of ancient aquifers and the pollution of the oceans, not to mention climate change itself. Not to worry. The population will decline just the same.
Huge damage has already have been done, and there may be worse to come. If climate change reaches a tipping point as it may, the outcome will be so catastrophic that the question of whether to consume or not will be of academic interest only.
Any time there is a big disaster , the humanity shows its survival capacity ,even without energy, piped water etc, showing that is possible get back to the simple way of life and save the planet.
Thank you for this!
This is a very well written article. I see there is some ambiguity about the term sustainability. What you’re calling sustainability, the way corporates and governments are going about it, is Weak Sustainability. The view you put forward is Deep Ecology, or Strong sustainability.
Anyway, I agree wholeheartedly with everything here. The hypocrisy allegation is one I am all too familiar with, and tired of. Please keep up the good work, remember there are people all over the world striving for this kind of change. We may not know each other, but we are not alone.
Grim article, but it is the truth. there is absolutely nothing that humans are doing or evolving towards that is sustainable. Nothing. The shitstorm is coming sooner or later, and there is not a thing that can be done to stop it. It might not happen in my lifetime, but could likely happen in my children’s lifetime.
There are 7+billion humans on this planet now that in effect are only alive because of technology. It is certainly correct that if the “engine” were to be turned off, billions of humans would not survive. As it stands, in short the order future there will be twice as many humans competing for same unsustainable resources that certainly technology will not be able to keep up with.
So no matter what is done there is no going back. if humans cut the cord and choose to live with the planet, there will be far fewer humans. (not bad thing in my opinion) If humans continue at the current pace, (regardless of technological advances) the choice will be made for us. And that choice will be very grim indeed.
This planet has and will go on just fine without humans on it. Humans are accelerating this eventuality at a breakneck speed. There might be choices however that can at least slow down and possibly calm the inevitable. Take global climate change for example. It is going to happen, it is happening. Humans might have a choice to help slow it down so that it doesn’t happen so fast that the ecosystem/flora and fauna wont entirely collapse and might have a fighting chance to adapt to it. It will of course take an unlikely monumental shift and a massive change in human behavior for that to happen as this article suggests.
So in closing, it is inevitable that Humans and Earth are going to come to an “understanding” sooner or later. We as a species can possibly, but not likely ease this storm a bit, but either way its gonna happen.
thanks for the article, great read.
not one word about population growth? that is the one thing truly in my power. refuse to give birth. help those with no access to birth control to obtain it. draw down the human population. then there is hope
Population is not the problem. Cunsumption and western standards leaving -fellowed elswhere- are the fundamental problem
Nothing is absolute, including sustainability. You may put off wrecking the earth for a while, but it will end even if none of us are here. In the meantime, we should do the best we can for future generations, especially stuff like population control and realistic power generation
You think in terms of benefiting future generations of humans. I dont
This article for sure details all of the problems except the population problem.
It’s a completely hopeless situation with billions of humans. There will be a peak population and it will be because of resource depletion, climate change and wars for resources. Some of us can strive for alleged sustainable living but most humans will end up killing off nature out of desperation. Until the collective mindset is to stop expanding the human population comes about then the natural world will continue to disappear.
Individual civilizations have collapsed in the past, often by overutilizing the resources in their area of influence. the difference today is that we have a world economy highly interlinked. We could collapse the whole thing in one big cluster f*&k. Our only hope is that there will be a sufficiently large disaster which is clearly due to our actions but not enough to collapse the whole edifice. Not much to pin our hopes on.
The problem is clearly the huge numbers of humans…there is no way of sugarcoating this fact. people have just got to stop reproducing, but they won t, because industry needs buyers. I am deeply saddened to have been around to witness the end of the world, and it did not end with a bang (as of yet) but with thousands of whimpers..species extinct, the brutal murder of 150 billion animals a year to feed our faces, the destruction of the environment, so that the creatures that lived there pass away..the ocean, acidifying , the islands of crap miles long and wide in the oceans, death here, murder there pillage here, forcible take over there..not one item that my eyes lay on is positive…how can it be? There is really no hope, the planet, the beautiful planet, this Garden of Eden before the evil simian arose and laid waste everything it touched is being murdered in cold blood.
Thanks for the comment. Though it is hard not to feel despair at times, it doesn’t help anything. There are only huge numbers of humans because there is a huge amount of food being produced by industrial agriculture. This system, like any other artifact of civilization, can’t last indefinitely. Like industrialism, it needs fossil fuels to function. Fossil fuels require vulnerable infrastructure, just like markets do. Stop the flow of fossil fuels, and civilization collapses. Hopefully this would happen in a way that would allow humanity to prepare by re-establishing cultures on a local, human scale, and minimize suffering and hardship. And Iran has already proven that human populations can be brought down without disease, famine, and warfare–see https://deepgreenresistance.net/resistance/other-plans/russia-collapse-iran-birth-control/?toc=1 While we agree that we have little time, if any, and that there are no very attractive options left for humanity, we believe it is best to fight. Always. We have a plan and a strategy: http://deepgreenresistance.org/deep-green-resistance-strategy/decisive-ecological-warfare
Sure it’s either:cause civilization to crash OR shrink the human population by not breeding. ILL TAKE THE LATTER
If there’s a way to convince enough people to not breed, we’d like to hear it. But the point is well taken, and we should say that our interpretation of what civilization is (a system of overlapping power structures like patriarchy, capitalism, agriculture, and industrialism, which cause population explosions like the one we’re witnessing) differs from the usual perception–civilization as order, peace, civility, diplomacy, and so on. We invite readers to explore more about this critique of civilization at http://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/repression/civilization-definition/
Well done and thanks for keeping the conversation going in these comments.
DGR, I love many of the philosophies you stand for and have followed you for a few years now. Friends share articles with me articles fairly often. I’ve noticed a few flaws in your logic I would like to point out.
1. Population plateau
The population is not exploding, it is plateauing. Peak population growth happened in the late 1960s. Obviously population depends on human decisions to have more or fewer children, but the statistics nonetheless show that the fertility rate is approaching the rate of replacement: two children for two parents. With more knowledge about global resource availability, it’s conceivable that the human community will stay within its bounds.
Citations (just a couple since I’m on mobile):
Hans Rosling (2012), Karolinska Institutet https://youtu.be/ezVk1ahRF78
Max Roser (2010), University of Oxford https://ourworldindata.org/future-world-population-growth/
2. Focus on an attractive solution
The Earth can easily support the 10 or 11 billion that seem likely. Of course, as you and I both know, a significant change in lifestyle is necessary. A mixed, diverse garden produces way more food, comfort and joy than a field of monocrops, as anyone will know who’s walked through one. The key here is to replace agriculture with family homesteads, small patches of nature tended by a single family, arranged in settlements, with forests, meadows and nature reserves in between each one.
People actually have to go onto land and build a house, plant trees, fruits, nuts, berries, herbs and flowers, keep bees, raise their children in nature, and take responsibility for their little corner of Earth.
Is such a change in consciousness possible?
I estimate, not with the current approach. Warfare, fighting and resistance are fun for a small percentage of frustrated radicals. I used to be with you on that. But I realised the majority of people are actually peaceful, want stability and comfort, and are too frightened, damaged or cowardly to realise what’s happened to us. Even if they follow the critique, the question remains, “What should we do?”
Your definition of civilization is not the same as most people’s. This harmful system is “technocracy”, or the rule of technology. “Civilization”, by contrast, is an advanced stage of human development and organization (quoth most dictionaries). It is an aspiration, an idea: in my view, an advanced civilization will be at harmony with nature and all people will have equal power. We are not there yet, but we could be.
For some time I’ve been wondering how effectively to recommend the “Ringing Cedars” books for you guys to properly read, with scholarly attention, and consider as a real movement which is having actual, measurable empirical effects on the development of the planet.
In Russia starting this year, any citizen can get a free small piece of agricultural land to make a family homestead. Putin talks about reallocating land from unscrupulous agribusiness towards natural settlements and local economies. They want secure food supply, cut unemployment, and find something for refugees to do. The programme is popular, and is supported from the highest levels of government. Most of the applicants so far are readers of the “Ringing Cedars”, because this law was prophesized in Book 5 of the series, 17 years before its implementation. The readers were ready for it to happen.
The image of life portrayed in this series is sustainable. Really. Trust me, I share your disillusionment of the “sustainability” movement. It’s a sham. Led by King Elon, they basically plan to trash the Earth while sedating people with handouts and perks, while constructing bunkers and escape pods to survive while the population burns. Citation: My BA (Sustainable Development) from Columbia University, New York. I almost lost all hope when I figured that out, it’s been a trip let me tell you…
But on the other hand, the Ringing Cedars show a life where all people have equal power, and all live in nature. It’s a warm image, beautiful and attractive. It’s pleasant, noble and bold.
People live with what they can grow, manufacture and trade with their own hands and feet. Pressed oil of sunflowers or cedar nuts provides light, in small ceramic lanterns. Clothing is handspun and woven from retted grass. With heirloom hatchets, small houses are built from timber with stone foundations. Saplings grow in place of the harvested trees.
At school, children learn the ripening sequence of each berry and fruit, so that none will be wasted on the ground. Folk make delicious berry wine, entertain one another with playful songs and athletic dances. Couples strive to make lovely homesteads so their children grow up to be confident, sturdy, satisfied people, quick with their mind and strong in their spirit. The purpose of life: to perfect the land on which we dwell.
The developments in Russia prove the viability of this image to prompt real social change, and provide the backbone of a stable transition to a natural civilization without the technocratic shit you and I both dislike. To end harmful industrial processes, we must provide for ourselves somehow else.
3. Use the system to remove the system
There is no more time to waste articulating critique in ever more eloquent ways. We must go to land and plant homesteads upon it. It’s easier with a partner to keep you company and inspire dedication. Birth our children at home and raise them together with the neighbours in nature, learning the herbs and plants, experiencing the stars, and understanding the challenges of cleaning up the rest of the technocratic mess.
There is a way to use the system to remove the system. Pass this law:
“Every willing family shall receive at least a hectare of land, for free, with the ability to inherit. No produce from the allotment shall be subject to taxation.”
Have you heard of these books already? The “Ringing Cedars of Russia”, Anastasia. It drives me nuts to keep reading organisations like yours who know how bad the system is, who still haven’t seen this most brilliant way of removing it. You pass that law, and the system disappears, homestead by homestead. At the end, we’re left with billions of self-sufficient, self-governing settlements, no central power, and a planet that blooms like the beautiful primordial garden.
Lobby for this law. Make a homestead yourself. Organize around a creative solution that is effective and has popular appeal to the simple majority. Did you notice how many of the responses to your article are pessimistic and depressed? For the love of God, dear Deep Greens! Spend 2000 words talking about what we should do, not how pissed off you are by greenwashing!
Of course solar panels are lame. But they’re helpful if you want to establish a self sufficient homestead. Just until you have pressed oil lanterns or learn how to make etheric light, you know?
Of course water saving shower heads won’t fix everything. They’re one tiny, tiny thing. They’re really our enemy? Just do it and move on to something meaningful.
4. Individual action is the way, times a billion
Here’s the thing, individual action is actually exactly what will stop massive industry. Not a little band of militants who eventually get removed by the military. But millions and billions of people, entire national governments and economic regions establishing a new civilization to which massive, destructive industry is not invited. The majority of people must establish a new, natural way of life. Individually, and as a society. Everything comes from nature. It’s all there from the beginning. Society is made up of individuals.
We have to actually go to land and build homesteads there, better with our soul mate because it’s easier and more fun. We have to make it a development priority in each country. We have to pass a law on family homesteads. This is real, important stuff. It achieves the aims. It is possible. It is effective. The future is closer than we think. It’s beautiful, and not just for me. The majority of people will be on the land, growing their food, tending their garden, free of tax, on their family land, made with love for posterity and future generations.
I stayed away from activists and resisters for the last few years. I just didn’t understand what is wrong, why don’t they get it? You don’t like the current system? Then you have to replace all its vital functions with something better: food, water, shelter, sewage, governance, education and healthcare. Eight billion, at least. What is your plan?
The fact is, there is already a new civilization on Earth which is attending to all this and more. It’s been incubating in Russia for the last 22 years. Settlements of family homesteads, spaces of love, родная партия, the Ringing Cedars of Russia, and Anastasia are some of the keywords. It’s the strongest back to the land movement, and the best hope for the natural transformation of our population into a harmonious way of life. My rational and intuitive estimates both pick this one as a winner, but that doesn’t mean much. Look at it yourself, let me know.
I’ll keep pondering how to explain this better, so that thinking people such as yourselves will take the time to read, study and understand Anastasia, the Ringing Cedars, the settlements and the political party they have created. There is something BIG here that you need to know about.
Til then, do at least consider that practical individual action, multiplied many times, is exactly what we need – as long as it’s comprehensive, meaningful action. Create a lifestyle that doesn’t use harmful industries, and slowly push them off the Earth. We can do this and we will.
All the best.
humans are not sustainable!
welcome to the limits to growth!
On the up side! in another 100 million years when the next super continent Novopangea has formed, the Anthropocene will be a long forgotten shit stain deep in the strata. In the mean time we could all go and live under a mango tree.
I’m feeling more boredom than despair from reading this piece. How many times do we have to be told that our current mode of living is fucked? I get it. But like so many pieces before it, this piece has almost no information about what people might want to spend their time doing. To the extent that anyone at DGR spends time editing stories like this one, aren’t they basically just wasting their time? The bad news is the bad news. You could save some money and time by just running the same bad news story over and over again. In the meantime, you could spend the saved time and resources on stories about what people should be doing, other than throwing their hands up in despair. It may be true that the only way to “save the planet” is for our species to give up on everything connected to electricity, for example. So why not run some stories about how such a transition might happen, short of the standard operation of the 4 horses of the apocalypse. Are there any scaleable examples of people who have had access to electricity (etc.) voluntarily and collectively abandoning those technologies? If there’s nothing short of waiting for the entire global economy to collapse, then what’s the point of having a news service at all?
Maybe because we want to save some of the other living beings on the planet?
I find it the height of irony that this article was written and disseminated on the internet.
The height of irony? Really? Do you think it would be better if important news, to be credible, must live up to your imagined standards of purity? Would we better serve the causes of planetary survival and human dignity by passing out handwritten leaflets on reused paper, or perhaps fallen leaves? Comments like this serve only to discourage people from engaging in serious resistance my making it seem hypocritical to do anything that has any chance of reaching the very few people who might be moved to act. It’s the most tiresome, dreary argument there is.
Personal change has never been an agent of social change. Regardless of how humans behave on a personal basis, social organizations that are arranged intentionally to concentrate wealth (corporations, governments) are essentially unaffected because they have their own agenda that they will press until they lack the power to do so. It’s unrealistic to expect the minority consumer class, for example, to stop consuming fossil fuels and the many products that rely on them. Only organized political resistance can keep oil and coal in the ground. To excuse ourselves from participating in that resistance because we’re sinful drivers who use electricity is to internalize and excuse the abusive behavior of those who are really in power, to pretend that it’s “human nature” that’s the problem and not various business plans.
But you make some wrong assumptions. For starters, you seem to have a very black/white perspective about ecology, sustainability/manufacturing/industry.
I think the answer is just to lead simpler lives. Minimalism. Plant more trees. Use less fuel. Look at the hashtag #zerowaste !!!
You seem to promote an underground movement like “eco terrorism”. Well okay. I’m sure we’ve all thought about taking things up a notch and smashing bulldozers (or whatever). Who hasn’t? Nothing wrong with the odd thought crime here and there. Because governments aren’t taking what scientists and biologists say seriously enough.
Okay. but if you start sabotaging everything you don’t like, they’ll simply build more. Won’t they? What about the ecological manufacturing footprint of whatever it is you destroyed? Aren’t you all about less consumption not more? So by dismantling or destroying things, you’ve just committed the company to ordering in a replacement. Or do you seriously think businesses are going to ” give up” quite so easily? Business is like war, okay. Meanwhile, you’re consigning more machines to the scrap heap. And what of the ecological footprint of the tools used to destroy things? Wouldn’t you have a lower footprint by simply… buying nothing?
I think it’s better to lead by example.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
If you wish to go back to a simpler, less ecologically damaging lifestyle, then do so. No one is stopping you (or us).
Thank you for the comments. We encourage you to please read our analysis, the book Deep Green Resistance: A strategy to Save the Planet, now available free online: https://deepgreenresistance.net/preface/deep-green-resistance/ If there’s a more thorough examination of industrial civilization and how it might be stopped, we’ve yet to see it. And if “being the change you wish to see in the world” and leading by example were effective tactics, then civilized humanity would long since have followed the lead of indigenous societies. But, of course, they have destroyed them instead. The problem is power–the power of one group over another, as with agriculture over the land, men over women, white over black, and so on–and it always has been. Our strategy, Decisive Ecological Warfare, is aimed at breaking this power. You can read more about it at http://deepgreenresistance.org/deep-green-resistance-strategy/decisive-ecological-warfare
Resistance might work if enough of citizens do it over and over. And no, those in power and making tons of profit won’t like it and they will probably work harder to destroy those who speak and write the truth and act on it. Those corporations are completely in control now and own the government which means the police and military. They can and will stop resisters if they need too. But the way I see it, that is the only way to stop the destruction of our planet. The oligarchy is not going to stop voluntarily.
To whom it may concern, a greenwashing case from beverage industry.
Well, all life on Earth will die in less than a billion years if we destroy industrial civilisation, as the sun will become too hot for life on Earth. The person who wrote this article obviously don’t care and thus obviously must hate life.
Hi Kim, this is an idea you may like:
A VIRTUAL SUSTAINABLE CITY TO SAVE THE PLANET
Despite the high quality of life that some of the so-called developed nations have achieved, the truth is that the world, considered as a group of countries located in a fragile and geographically limited biosphere, is threatened with extinction due to human conflicts and the depredation of the environment.
Notwithstanding the good and very important actions taken by groups and individuals in favor of a better world, deterioration at all levels continues to increase dangerously.
After more than thirty years dedicated to these matters, and since “an image is worth a thousand words” we have come up with a novel idea of designing a model city that has all the characteristics of infrastructure and organization inherent to the peaceful and sustainable society that we want for ourselves and our descendants, whose representation in the form of scale models, animated series, feature films, video games and theme parks, would constitute a model to follow to generate the necessary changes.
The prototype that we present has some characteristics that are opposed, sometimes in a radical way, to the religious, economic, political and educational traditions and customs that have been transmitted from generation to generation, yet are the causes of the aforementioned problems, and therefore must be transformed.
If you are interested in knowing about this project, or even participating in it, we invite you to visit our website https://elmundofelizdelfuturo.blogspot.com/ (written in Spanish and English), where we are working in that sense.
I appreciate the work you are doing here. Very needed.
I offer some constructive criticism: tone back the emotional pleas a bit. There a number of phrases in this article that suggest fantastic hysteria, which undermines the message of the article and the reputability of the larger movement as a whole. The below quote is an excellent example:
“Is a lifeless world ruled by machines really what you want?”
With warmth, I urge you to be wary of writing in a way that suggests hysteria.
The only thing that will save the planet is the complete collapse of the world-wide techno-industrial system.
If we wait for the system to collapse on its own, then there may be nothing left for us and our descendents to live on.
Therefore, what is needed now is a revolutionary movement to force the collapse of the world-wide techno-industrial system.